Posts tagged with "Libraries":

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Marpillero Pollak Architects masterfully designs new library in Elmhurst, Queens

If you think public libraries are an institution with a proud past but a problematic future you have to visit the new Elmhurst Public Library by Marpillero Pollak Architects. Commissioned in 2004 by New York’s Department of Design and Construction (DDC), it’s not just a triumphant work of civic architecture, but one that creates community and celebrates what it means to be a public institution in 2017.

The building is entered through a small community park on the corner of Broadway and 51st Avenue and transforms this amorphous Queens corner adjacent to Queens Boulevard into a centralized urban core. Its primary envelope is a terra-cotta rainscreen facade with aluminum inserts that mark the floor slabs and act as a connector to front and back double height glass cubes. These two structural glass spaces position patrons in the larger environment: a rear community park and the urban thoroughfare of Broadway. The Cubes, which glow as luminous beacons after dark, are calibrated to relate to the scale of the existing historical fabric, including the landmark 1760 St. James Episcopal Church Parish Hall across Broadway. They announce the library’s presence and the front cube floats above the main entry’s “memory wall,” which is made of bricks salvaged from the original Carnegie building. The interior of the Broadway cube is covered by a relief in elm wood from the artist Allan McCollum and is visible through the glass walls from the street.

Elmhurst badly needs this new facility, as it is one of the most diverse residential neighborhoods in the world and home to mostly poor immigrants from 80 countries. It had long been served by a vaguely classical Lord & Hewlett–designed Carnegie library that was built to house 3,000 volumes in 1904, and has had to adapt to changing populations with major renovations and additions in 1920, 1926, 1949, and 1965. These changes led to an interior that was broken into small, fragmented spaces that were insufficient for what had become the second busiest location in the Queens library system.

The original library was centered in a small park, but over time a large adjacent residential building put the space in permanent shadow. In addition, circulation through the old building spilled over into reading and stacks, limiting reading space and other program requirements. The Carnegie library design emphasized the visual control of the library, but this can be intimidating for immigrants and even the ground floor windows were permanently covered. All of these were inadequate to serve a huge population that requires new and different services. The architects were hired to design a modern library able to accommodate the branch’s enormous number of patrons and make it an open, transparent, and welcoming center for the community.

The interior of the new library is color-coded by use: children, teen, media, etc. It is also full of every imaginable representative of this diverse community, who are not just reading books, but doing school homework, playing games on computers, and seeking help from the librarians. The architects intend for the glass structure to open the library up to the side parklet and rear garden, which serves as an outdoor learning center for this dense urban community. Commissioned by the DDC, this design delivers on nearly everything promised by the agency’s Design and Construction Excellence program created under Commissioner David Burney.

Elmhurst Library 86-07 Broadway Elmhurst, NY Tel: 718-271-1020 Architects: Marpillero Pollak Architects

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Inwood has questions as city quickly prepares to develop new library with affordable housing

"This entire process feels like window dressing for decisions already taken." So read a guerilla message plastered on design boards at a recent library visioning session in Inwood, a neighborhood at Manhattan's northern tip. The city announced last month that it will sell the Inwood branch library, on busy Broadway, to a developer who will build all-affordable housing and a new library on-site. The New York Public Library (NYPL) said that after the demolition, the rebuilt Inwood branch would be the same size and provide the same services. The Robin Hood Foundation, an antipoverty nonprofit, is putting $5 million towards the project to match the city's contribution. Although the housing would be privately developed, the city would maintain ownership over the library. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) expects construction on the new building to begin in 2019. To prepare for changes, HPD has organized three visioning sessions about the library's future. The first was held last Wednesday night, and attracted about 60 people: HPD planner Felipe Cortes noted that the crowd was mostly older and whiter, an observation reflected in the number of stickers on the respective English and Spanish-language design and programming visioning boards. Residents were asked to express their preference for a new building at 115, 145, and 175 feet in height with 90, 110, and 135 units, respectively. Not included: an option to preserve the building, which dates to 1952. At the session, some residents felt the project was moving ahead too fast, and that public input would not substantially impact the city's plans; similar concerns were voiced earlier this month at a Manhattan Community Board 12 meeting, DNAinfo reported. "Bill de Blasio is too eager to cave to developers," said resident Sally Fisher. "It's like the city put a 'For Sale' on Inwood." She wondered where teenagers and children will congregate once demolition is underway. The impending sale follows two others that the city has authorized in Brooklyn Heights and Sunset Park, Brooklyn, both of which have sparked community outcry. (Brooklyn Public Library is a separate system from the NYPL, which covers Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island.)  For the Inwood deal, it's not yet clear who will own the deed—HPD says those details have yet to be determined. The library, one of the most-used in the system, is in dire need of repairs and upgrades. Pointing to a water-damaged drop ceiling, library manager Denita Nichols said that the building is showing signs of wear and tear, and the full renovation 16 years ago has not kept pace with changing technology or current community needs. Nichols said library, which is one of the few open seven days a week, has to accommodate quiet study spaces and more social spaces. "I would love to see a flex space with a culture center—that would really be great to me if it happened," she said. NYPL will continue to do community outreach around the project before any design decisions are made.
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East Elmhurst Community Library in Queens breaks ground on expansion

After closing just a day before Thanksgiving, the East Elmhurst Community Library has broken ground on its renovations. Originally built in 1971, the $8.9 million dollar project will add 4,500 square feet to the existing 7,360 square-foot space over the course of the next three months. Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora of the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC) joined with Queens Library President Dennis Walcott, local elected officials including Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and Councilmember Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, and representatives from Queens Community Board 3 at yesterday's the ground-breaking ceremony. All of them spoke of the importance of libraries for community members to learn, assemble, and engage with the larger Queens community. “The Queens Public Library is a crucial resource for seniors, students, immigrants and families in my district,” said City Councilmember Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. “We not only use the space for its collections but use our local library as a place to bond with our children, learn new languages, and immerse in cultural programming.” As the library approaches its 50th anniversary, senator Jose Peralta said the project will “modernize the East Elmhurst Community Library and bring it into the future.” The expansion of the front of the building will create a multi-purpose assembly space that will accommodate up to 120 people, and the side expansion will house part of an assembly space, in addition to an interior reading court with skylight and a computer room. The library will also meet standards for LEED Silver certification, boasting several sustainable features such as solar panels, active heat recovery ventilation, and insulated glazing that will use a suspended plastic film to triple parts of the building envelope’s thermal resistance. The new library expansion will be managed by the Department of Design and Construction, in partnership with Garrison Architects of Manhattan, and construction by the National Environmental Safety Company of Long Island City.
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A little library in Pennsylvania makes a big impression thanks to Front Studio’s colorful design

In the unassuming town of Sharpsburg, Pennsylvania, Front Studio created a vibrant community library that makes a major visual impact. “Our work is based on the importance of making architecture experiential and memorable so that it fosters a higher level of awareness in people who don’t normally interact with it,” said principal Art Lubetz, who spearheaded the project.

Historically, Sharpsburg is an industrial, blue-collar town—many of its citizens work for the local H.J. Heinz Company. To reflect this heritage and to help stay within the restrictive budget, Lubetz and his team picked industrial elements, like the exterior corrugated metal paneling, concrete flooring, and exposed trusses. Each of the “building blocks” is painted the exact same bright color inside and out so that the interior is clearly communicated to the street. The bold hues make the material palette feel airy and energetic, an appropriate atmosphere for the many children who frequent the space.

Due to its location—just across the way from the community center and near the community garden—the Sharpsburg Library is a major gathering center for the little town. “It’s flexible and adaptable,” said Lubetz. “There’s a dynamic overlap between the old building and the new, the interior and the exterior, and soft and hard surfaces.”

Despite its fragmented appearance on the outside, the volumes connect fluidly on the inside, even enveloping the site’s existing structure (an Indian restaurant) without breaking the flow, making wayfinding within the library simple. “The volumes intersect like a piece of sculpture,” said Lubetz. “I like to think that there is an element of art about this place.…I’ve been around long enough to believe that architecture can be art.”

Lubetz and his team also sourced the furniture, which turned out to be a challenge. “It was tricky to find relatively inexpensive stuff that was durable and colorful—like the children’s [Verner] Panton chairs,” Lubetz explained. Front Studio designed a few pieces as well, such as the library’s main desk.

Other playful touches, like the garage door out to the courtyard and the large exterior circular cutouts, not only “bond the site to its environment,”but are meant to evoke positive emotions: “Kids love this place because it’s so vibrant,” said Lubetz. “And people still call me because they saw it driving down the street and it made them smile.”

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Renderings revealed for Maya Lin’s Smith College library

A venerable liberal arts institution in Northampton, MA has revealed renderings of its new library by architect and artist Maya Lin.

In contrast to institutional expansions that gobble open space, Maya Lin Studio’s design for the Smith College library reduces the building's footprint to add greenery back to the campus. Two curved glassy wings will bookend the library's core and replace ungainly additions from the 1960s and 80s that restricted movement from the science quadrangle to the campus center.

Lin, in partnership with Shepley Bulfinch, was selected to design the addition last year. The college announced last week that a third architect, William Bialosky, has joined the original team.

The design defers to Frederick Law Olmsted's 1893 campus plan, which envisioned the campus as both a botanic garden and arboretum. The glazed facades of the two "jewel boxes" (really?) hug Neilson Library (1909) and provide complementary programs: The north wing is more social, with a digital media commons, general collections, and a cafe, while the south wing holds Smith's special collections, many of which focus on women's history. A new outdoor amphitheater and sunken courtyard on the north side will soften the gradient between in and outdoors, especially during those long New England winters. Landscape design is by Edwina von Gal in partnership with Ryan Associates.

Inside, notable features include an oculus atop the central atrium and a top-floor "skyline room" that bisects the older building's roof to offer sweeping views of the campus lake and the Holyoke Mountain Range. The reliance on natural light, Lin explained, will reduce the building's energy consumption.

Construction is expected to begin next summer and the building should be complete by fall 2020.

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Building of the Day: New York Public 53rd Street Library branch

This is the twelfth in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours! This afternoon, Andrea Steele, principal of TEN Arquitectos, led the thirteenth Archtober Building of the Day tour, an informative visit to the New York Public 53rd Street Library branch. Designed by her firm and completed in June, the new facility opposite the Museum of Modern Art occupies the site of the former Donnell Library Center, which it shares with the new 50-story Baccarat Hotel & Residences designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. While the location is excellent, the space presented many challenges. The library occupies three levels, one at street level and two below grade, with only fifty feet of street frontage. The majority of the library lies below the new tower and, as a result, it had to be planned around a massive sheer wall and a large elevator core. In certain locations the floor slabs are sloped, penetrated and pulled back, thereby creating multi-story spaces and openings to introduce natural light to the lower levels and diminish the perception of being subterranean. Architect and client sought to make the library as open and inviting to the public as possible and to encourage dialogue with the city. Public engagement was one of the main objectives of the design and remains an important goal of the library’s programming, which has already included after-hours concerts, opera performances, and presidential debate screenings. To draw people in, the building’s facade is extremely open and transparent, offering views to the stepped Main Hall, a multi-use space that connects the street level with the Central level below. Responsible for interior design as well as architecture, TEN Arquitectos have created a lively and engaging space. Materials such as exposed architectural concrete, corrugated perforated metal, wood floors, felt, and ceilings of metal grating were selected to express, in Steele’s words, “the tectonics of the city.” Sleek contemporary furnishings recall designs of Prouve and Aalto. Bold environmental graphics were provided by 2x4, who also created a playful mural in the children’s area referencing New York landmarks. About the author: John Shreve Arbuckle, Assoc. AIA guides the AIANY Around Manhattan Architecture boat tours, and organizes and guides tours through Arbuckle Architecture Tours, LLC. He is the President of DOCOMOMO New York/Tri-State, a local chapter of an international organization devoted to documenting and preserving Modern architecture.
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Official images released of the Brooklyn Public Library’s Interim Brooklyn Heights Branch

Opened last July, official images of the Interim Brooklyn Heights Library have been released. Designed by New York studio Leven Betts, the space will be a three-year temporary home for the branch until construction of the new library—part of a high-rise development at 280 Cadman Plaza West—is complete. The interim facility is located in the parish hall at Our Lady of Lebanon Church, 109 Remsen Street. Development firm, The Hudson Companies is behind the project.

Speaking to The Architect's Newspaper through email, Leven Betts said how they "designed the Interim space to be a light-filled pleasant space of reading, learning, and community gathering that would function seamlessly for the branch and community while the new building was constructed." The firm also described their design strategy as "simple," aiming to "maximize the openness of the existing parish hall space while still providing for private spaces at the librarian staff area and the Multi-Purpose Room." The solution they said, "is a single translucent wall that bellies out at the ends to create the private spaces with access to light and fresh air and curves in at the middle to create a large shared open space for reading, studying and browsing books."

Using Panelit—a translucent honeycomb-like material—the wall has Walt Whitman’s poem Crossing Brooklyn Ferry printed onto it. Whitman's work can be read in full as it spans the wall's 100-foot length. "The response to the design has been very positive," said Leven Betts. In fact, Brooklyn Public Library (BPL) President and CEO Linda E. Johnson said: “With its bright interior and comfortable environment for attending a program, learning a new skill or simply browsing the shelves, the interim Brooklyn Heights Library is as welcoming and inspiring as the neighborhood it serves." According to Leven Betts, BPL administrators praised the quality and speed of the project (which took one year from commencement of design to completion of construction).

Leven Betts are currently working on the total renovation of two other BPL projects, one in East Flatbush Brooklyn and one in Borough Park.

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New sweeping “maker-space” library connects historic city to its new civic center

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Once marketed as "The City Above Toronto," the City of Vaughan is considered to be one of the fastest growing suburban cities in the Greater Toronto Area. Their new five-year-old Civic Center campus is situated just outside the historic community of Maple, an agricultural center dating back to the mid-1800's, and it's commuter rail station linking the city to downtown Toronto. The upcoming Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension—projected to open in 2018—along with a planned transit-oriented development that anticipates housing for 25,000 residents and employment for over 11,000 workers promises to establish a new identity for Vaughan. Nestled in between all of this is the City's latest project: the Vaughan Civic Centre Resource Library. Designed by Toronto-based ZAS Architects, the building responds to a "library of the future" brief with a sweeping glass and steel "maker-space" dedicated to community learning, gathering, creating, and celebration. Peter Duckworth-Pilkington, Principal at ZAS, says the library functions as a connective building between Vaughan's City Hall, completed in 2011, and the historic town center of Maple. A sweeping roofline, which tapers from a monumental civic scale down to a smaller two-story height, establishes the massing of the library. "We used the metaphor of a tent: the idea that this was a large tent the community could come into and participate in community activities like author readings, maker-spaces for art and music, and other gathering spaces." The facility is also located 2-miles away from Canada's Wonderland, the county's first (and largest) amusement park. Duckworth-Pilkington says this adjacency had an influence on the design. "The curve to the roof forms were inspired metaphorically by the flamboyant curves and edges of Canada's Wonderland's roller coasters." The structural and facade system was specifically designed to provide an engaging and transparent relationship to the city. A "V" configuration of primary steel columns produces a large-scale truss-like system that maintains open ground level with larger spanning members set up higher in the roof plenum. Set outboard of the steel frame is a curtain wall facade that dynamically curves, cants, and tapers. A compositional grid, set at an angle, provides the basis for mullion and panel spacing. The panel sizes of 1500mm (roughly five feet) subdivide by halves and thirds tracking up the facade, helping to organize and visually break up the lengthy elevation.
  • Facade Manufacturer Noram Glass; Alumicor Limited; Ontario Panelization
  • Architects ZAS Architects
  • Facade Installer Noram (ACP & curtain wall glazing); Ontario Panelization (porcelain panels at main entrance)
  • Facade Consultants n/a
  • Location Vaughan, Ontario (Canada)
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • System curtain wall
  • Products Alcotop (aluminum composite panel system); Alumicor (glazed aluminum curtain wall); Ontario Panelization (porcelain enamel faced panels)
The shapely box was designed utilizing three sets of software: Grasshopper provided the initial project geometry, a design model was developed in Rhino, and the working drawings were produced in Revit. From here, the model was further developed by the steel company to develop shop drawings. Once the primary steel frame was erected, curtain wall installers used a full 3_D scan of the frame to benchmark their shop drawings off of, to account for any construction tolerances deviating from the initial digital model. About 60% of the facade is composed of glass, which features a custom-designed frit pattern developed in-house by the architects. The pattern transitions from large densely packed squares to a lighter array of dots, achieving a gradient effect that is responsive to viewing angles and solar orientation. "The frit was meant to dissolve the solidity of the metal panel into the transparency of the glass," said Duckworth-Pilkington. The fritting also helps to deter bird strikes, a concern given the building's park-like setting. The canted facade incorporates an extended cap mullion detail that provides additional solar shading and places additional emphasis along one of the primary walkways leading to the main entrance. The facade material changes at the library entrance, which has been formally carved out of the box-like massing of the building. The ceramic panels set in a triangulated patterning create what Duckworth-Pilkington calls an "ice cream bar" effect of a hard chocolate shell on the outside, with an ice cream center. The facility is designed to accommodate Maple's library branch, a mere 8-minute walk away, and is set to officially open on September 10th, in coordination with a new council and new school year. The city has commissioned ZAS to design a new branch library about 10 minutes away from this location with a similar design brief. Designs have been completed on that project, which is currently out for bid.
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Marcel Breuer’s Central Library in Atlanta to be renovated and NOT demolished

Marcel Breuer's Brutalist Central Library in Atlanta lives on. At a Fulton County commissioners meeting yesterday, commissioners voted in favor of a plan to renovate the library and not demolish it, reports AJC. In April this year, The Architect's Newspaper reported on how the building's future hung in the balance. The library, which sits on 1 Margaret Mitchell Square, was subject to numerous preservation pushes, including a petition which garnered 1,899 signatures, pressure from Docomomo, and public attendance to meetings of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners and city council. At a commission meeting earlier this month, 52 out of 55 residents called for the building to remain. Even so, back in May Commissioner Marvin Arrington asked: “Why would we spend millions of dollars on land in downtown Atlanta when we already have land? We need to be investing in technology.” Having been delayed numerous times, commissioners now indicated their support for the building's preservation and adaptive reuse. The change in dialogue from demolition to preservation is something that Atlantan architect Michael Kahn believes is "testament to a changing, maturing city." Downtown Atlanta resident and architect Kyle Kessler said “We just need to make sure that the library still functions fully as a library and then whatever other space is available that can enhance the library's mission, fantastic." The plan voted for yesterday also tentatively includes $55 million for fixing-up the library, according to Creative Loafing. Certain parts have fallen into a state of decay, including broken elevators and a leaking roof. In the mid-1990s, the theater closed after part of its ceiling collapsed. Next month the Commissioners will decide how to fund the renovation as well as how much should go towards the project. In addition to the news of the library's forthcoming renovation, nonprofit Atlanta-based group Architecture and Design Center joined forces with local practice Praxis3 to generate a proposal showcasing the library's potential. Work on the scheme was coincidentally started before the idea of renovation had even entered the discourse. Their proposal essentially advocates creating a new library within Breuer's Brutalist shell. This would involve gutting more than half of the building. The group has put a price tag for the renovation between $40 and $55 million.
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Gould Evans transforms Brutalist library into community hub

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With declining public interest in an outdated 1970s exposed concrete library in Lawrence, Kansas, Gould Evans worked closely with residents, downtown neighborhood groups, and the library to establish primary goals for a renovation that sought to cover a broad base of community interests. Out of this extensive dialogue, the project team identified a design concept that promoted better contextual awareness between the library and the city through a new main entryway, a more functional threshold between the library and the surrounding community, and improved energy performance. After an extensive energy modeling and analysis on the existing structure by Syska Hennessy Group, it was discovered that the building lost significant energy and lacked adequate levels of daylight due to the arrangement of exposed concrete fins that acted like a giant radiator during hot days. In response, the architects addressed performative issues and community desires with a “re-skinning” strategy that wrapped a continuous reading room around the original structure. The facade, clad with a continuous insulation barrier and a terra-cotta rainscreen system, was envisioned as a highly contextual element interfacing directly with the city. The new addition opens up to a park on the north side, while providing a new community plaza along the south elevation. Along the west facade, access to an aquatic center across the street allows the library to be easily accessed by children before and after swim meets. The main entrance is located along the east of the building, which fronts a pedestrian-oriented urban context.
  • Facade Manufacturer NBK Architectural Terracotta
  • Architects Gould Evans, (original in 1972 by Robertson, Peters Ericson, Williams P.A.)
  • Facade Installer Drewco
  • Facade Consultants Bob D. Campbell and Co., Inc. (structural engineering); Syska Hennessey Group, Inc (sustainable design); Professional Engineering Consultants, PA (mechanical engineering)
  • Location Lawrence, Kansas
  • Date of Completion 2014
  • System terra-cotta rainscreen
  • Products NBK (terra-cotta rain screen): Terrart-Mid, smooth and sawtooth profiles; EFCO (storefront and curtain wall glazing): S433 Storefront, S5600 Curtain Wall; Solatube (solar daylighting system): 750 DS
Formal bends, folds, and apertures of the facade assembly facilitate the structure. Terra-cotta was employed as the predominant exterior finish material by the project team to provide a modern update to adjacent historic red brick facades of Lawrence dating back to the late 1800s. The one-by-five-foot terra-cotta rainscreen panels are hung off an aluminum clip system in front of a continuous insulation barrier and trimmed cleanly at the perimeter with one-fourth-inch aluminum plate. Contrary to the imperfections of brick modules, terra-cotta is engineered with a high tolerance through controlled machining processes. Gould Evans showcases this precision through its facade design, which specifies panels in two textures: smooth and grooved. A sense of variation and depth is produced from shadow lines generated by the textured panel, which appears slightly darker than the smooth panel despite their precisely similar coloration. Windows fit compositionally into the panelization of the facade, and include terra-cotta baguettes that perform as solar louvers. Particularly notable is how the new addition interfaces with the existing structure. Utilizing the mass of the concrete building, the new addition literally hangs off of the old library along the west facade where a new column-free book deposit drive through window is located. A primary steel framework sits above the existing roof plane, creating a continuous row of clerestory windows opposite the primary exterior facade. Opening up opposing walls to natural daylight minimizes glare—essential to the reading function of the space—by creating an even distribution of light. The original facade, a series of concrete fins now along the interior of the building, is codified with a cladding of a tongue and groove ash wood. Where the public interfaces with library services, such as account assistance, stacks, children's cubbies, private meeting spaces, and the central sorting machine, the ash is selectively removed to expose an underlying concrete structure. The project is currently undergoing LEED certification. After expanding the library by 50 percent, the design team reduced energy loads on the building by nearly half. This achievement is all the more impressive when considering the original systems of the building were left in place to reduce the embodied energy of a full replacement. The building has recently been recognized with a Landmark Libraries Award by Library Journal, as well as the Honor Award for Excellence in Architecture by AIA Kansas.
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Snøhetta unveils further renders of Philly’s Temple University Library

At the start of the year, AN reported that Oslo and New York-based firm Snøhetta's library for Temple University Library had the potential to spell the end of books. This would be the firm's eleventh library, and while Snøhetta has opened a book-less library before in Toronto for Ryerson University, this design emphasizes transparency and openness as key themes. Evidenced in Snøhetta's latest renderings, a glass curtain wall wraps round the library's upper floors allowing light to fill the space. Snøhetta's nighttime render, however, finally shows people what the interior of these levels will encompass. In terms of its interiors, the 225,000-square-foot building appears to extensively make use of wood detailing in sweeping archways that form the main entrances and atrium. On the ground floor, wood is used as a balustrade to surround circular void, stairways and interior cladding. Despite advocating the use of an automated storage and retrieval system (ASRS) that allows the library to devote more square footage to “learning spaces” and less space to book stacks, space for some books can still be seen in Snøhetta's latest renderings. Located on the top floor, the books form part of a large study space that is bathed in daylight. The library is one part of a $300 million campus expansion plan that includes a to-be-built quadrangle, the public space at the heart of the campus’ new social and academic core. The library, which is the university's most expensive construction project to date, is due to be complete by 2018.
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Future uncertain for Breuer’s Central Library in Atlanta

Although Marcel Breuer's is most famous for designing the UNESCO Building in Paris and the Met Breuer (the former Whitney), the architect also designed a monumental public library in Atlanta. The future of that building, like so many Brutalist structures, is now in jeopardy.

It wasn't always this way. In the mid-1960s, attitudes towards the architect and his future building were solicitous: The then-director of the Atlanta library system was so impressed by the Whitney (completed in 1966) he urged the library board to invite Breuer to design the Central Library. After negotiating a 275-page program, and significant delays in funding, the project was completed in 1980. The six-story, 265,000-square-foot library featured a 300-seat theater, a restaurant, with space for more than 1,000 patrons and one million books. On the exterior, precast concrete panels are bush-hammered for texture, while inside, floors two through four are connected by a massive concrete staircase.

During the 2008 recession, the city asked voters to approve a $275 million bond referendum to expand two library branches, build eight new ones, and renovate others. If the county could come up with $50 million, over 30 percent of the bond could go towards…replacing the Breuer–designed library with another library.

Although critics like Barry Bergdoll have praised the structure as a perfect example of the "heavy lightness" that characterizes Breuer’s Bauhaus–influenced forms, the Brutalist aesthetic did not play well in Atlanta. Whether this indifference expressed itself through lack maintenance is difficult to determine, but the building has deteriorated, and programs have shrunk: In the mid-1990s, the theater closed after part of its ceiling collapsed while the restaurant was shuttered at the end of that decade. In 2002, the city spent $5 million to renovate the building, adding colorful walls and carpeting to improve its public perception.

As preservation petitions from groups like Docomomo attest, many municipalities struggle to preserve modern architecture, especially buildings that are seen as not user-friendly, or those that are "aesthetically challenging." Stephanie Moody, the chair of Atlanta’s library board, has asked the county to consider reallocating the funds for the central library for use at other, more popular branches. The remaining cash would be used to buy land and build a new library to replace the main branch.

Moody told local blog Creative Loafing that downtown doesn’t need a library the size of Central. County commissioner Robb Pitts framed the situation bluntly: “[Funding] would be for some renovations plus the construction of a brand new Central Library to be located in Downtown Atlanta. Period,” he said. “They’re not renovating the existing one. It’s very clear that the construction [of a new one] is what the voters called for.”

Although the building is listed on the 2010 World Monuments Watch List of Most Endangered Sites, its fate remains undecided, for now.